Canning byelection: Elections, the press and Teresa van Lieshout | OPINION

This week the Mandurah Mail was in the strange position of being part of a story on the Canning byelection when independent candidate Teresa van Lieshout launched an explosive attack on our paper and journalists.

We reported on Ms van Lieshout’s legal woes, stories that are important to anyone with a vote in the byelection.

Unfortunately, Ms van Lieshout did not agree and the story on her abusive reaction can be found here.

No matter how much political aspirants don’t like it, the press plays an important part in the democratic process.

We report without fear or favour on candidates who are seeking the responsibility of representing the people in parliament.

No one who seeks such trust of the people should be above scrutiny, especially when they are facing criminal charges.

However, while Ms van Lieshout’s outburst would be offensive to many, the Mandurah Mail has stood by her right to speak freely.

It would be impossible for voters to make an informed decision about who to vote for if candidates never spoke freely.

And while the vast majority of voters will be turned off Ms van Lieshout for her foul-mouthed tirade, if not just her policies, at least she’s speaking her mind.

The job of reporting on candidates from major parties is complicated by the layers of spin that exist around them.

Ms van Lieshout’s comments are part of the robust political system that Australia is famous for.

We stand by our reporting because, above all else, the public has a right to know.

Perhaps we’d all be better off if every candidate called the Mandurah Mail and left 13 abusive phone messages about what they really think.

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